Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blackbeards Cove

My co-pilot, Bertin d'Eon, and I had been discussing a trip to Blue Island, Shelburne County, for a while. We often fly virtually around Nova Scotia on Google Maps in search of interesting coastal areas and islands to visit. Online we could see that Blue Island is a 1 km by 0.5 km island with a great landing area on the northern side and large cliffs the rest of the way around. The most interesting features are the deep crevices on the eastern cliffs and Blackbeards Cove on the southern shore, facing the open Atlantic.

On July 5, 2015, Bertin and I left the wharf at West Green Harbour, passed the tiny rocky island named the Thrum Cap and after a short, but choppy ride, we reached the northern beach of Blue Island. We lugged the 200 pound inflatable Zodiac up far enough so that we could leave it for a few hours without risk of it washing away. It was decided to try to circle the island clockwise by foot. Once we left the northern open area, the woods constituted of short coniferous trees and short grass. We noted the fact that there was no understory and that walking was easy. We thought that this island likely has sheep on it, or at least had in the past. There is a narrow trail that led the way south along the eastern coast that we were happy to follow. We soon made it to the tall cliffs that we had seen from above on Google Maps.

The first view of the eastern coast cliffs on Blue Island.

Bertin looking down one of the many crevices on the eastern side of Blue Island.

Most large wooded islands that I visit in s.w. Nova Scotia are home to Swainson's Thrushes, this island was no exception. As we approached the southeast corner of the island we got a brief glimpse of two goats as they vanished around the bend. I was later informed that these goats as well as a sheep were placed on the island by Leroy d'Entremont.

The vista at the southeast corner of Blue Island.

The most impressive feature of the island is Blackbeards Cove. It is a large cove created by a grassed headland to the east and a formidable, almost vertical, rock structure to the west. This western border is almost unnaturally straight. This is very evident in the satellite image above once it is zoomed in.

The impressive Blackbeards Cove on Blue Island.

Bertin on a swing crafted from a large buoy at Blackbeards Cove on Blue Island.

We completed our trek around the island before 10 am, so we decided to head towards Jordan Bay Gull Rock. This is a substantial sized rock and is similar in length to Yarmouth County's Gannet Rock, but looks much taller. On our way we got great looks at a sunfish which wasn't much smaller than our boat. Gull Rock is home to hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants. I was pleased to also find four Razorbills and a colony of Great Cormorants also using this impressive rock. I've submitted a checklist to eBird with all of my observations.

Razorbills on Jordan Bay Gull Rock.

Great Cormorants on Jordan Bay Gull Rock.

Eric Mills had sent me a paper a while back entitled The Nesting of the Great Cormorant (Phalcrocorax carbo) and the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) in Nova Scotia in 1971 (A.R. Lock and R.K. Ross). Jordan Bay Gull Rock was known as Blue Gull Rock back then and the paper states that there were 20-30 Great Cormorants and 400-430 Double-crested Cormorants. It is wonderful to know that the Great Cormorant colony on this gigantic rock of an island still has numbers on par with the 1970s.

Before summer's end I'd like to visit another Gull Rock east of Ingomar. It looks like more good habitat for Great Cormorants. Click here to view this island on Google Maps.

1 comment:

  1. The closest wharf to the other Gull Rock is the one on the opposite side of Ingomar. It would be nice to be able to start at Roseway but there's no way to get the boat in the water over there. Gunning Cove is even further.

    I've wanted to go there for years though. I've seen a boat pass by there one morning loaded down with so much moss that it was about to sink so the Zodiac can do it but like the other Gull rock there doesn't seem to be any kind of beach to land on becaus it's all one big rock.